Language Love.

Believe in the ability of language to heal. Let these butterfly and love-laced words infuse your Spirit with the joy from the Cosmas: the feminine genius of consciousness. Ascend.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Historically Black Colleges and Universities: A Luxury or Necessity?

And I dare to ask, are HBCU’s a Luxury or Necessity? Should they still be in existence? Are they still relevant?

Many scholars have argued that blacks have advanced and the need for these schools have either declined or are no longer needed. Things like Affirmative Action allow blacks to advance in “Corporate America,” so “they” say.

Historically black colleges were started, historically, to educate blacks who would otherwise, not be educated. Recently freed slaves were left with little options, so the founding of several black institutions of higher learning began. Although most HBCUs are in Southern States, the first Historically Black College was started in the North. Both Cheyney University (in Philadelphia-1837) and Wilberforce University (in Ohio-1856) were both started by Quakers and educated blacks. Some may argue these were actually, the first HBCUs, influenced heavily by independent religious institutions.

Another school, the Institute for Colored Youth, was started before both Cheyney and Wilberforce in the 1830s by other Philadelphia Quakers.

So in essence, Blacks once again needed a handout to be educated or re-educated, post the African Hellacaust: Slavery in the Americas. After the Civil War, HBCUs began to sprout, but not without opposition. With the Plessy vs. Ferguson Supreme Court Decision in 1896, it became law for blacks schools to be created, separate but equal however.

The Morrill-Land Grant Act of 1890 made it federal law for states using federal funds for schools/universities to either open admission to both white and black students, or to allocate money to schools specifically for blacks. With the passing of this second Morrill-Land Grant Act, sixteen black institutions received federal funding. Several black schools including Fisk University and my alma mater, first called the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, graduated several free blacks, including W.E.B DuBois and Booker T. Washington. In the case of Hampton Institute, (now called Hampton University), the school was founded to focus on educating blacks to fill mostly agricultural and mechanical trades. Washington, D.C. was the place that most of these blacks became employed after graduation from Hampton. Even today, the route from Hampton, VA to Washington, D.C. is a very clear and concise one. Don’t think that this clear route is one of coincidence. It has historical data tied to its existence.

With that brief history given, I came to my own sort of conclusion about the founding of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. As stated earlier, these schools were mostly started to educate blacks that would not be educated otherwise. Otherwise meaning that whites still did not want blacks educated in their schools. It goes deeper to ask if they wanted blacks to be educated at all. But an examination of the acts and laws that had to be enacted to ensure that blacks had an equal chance at an education should give you a very accurate answer to that question. Only strong minds ponder…..
This is not to say that blacks haven’t benefited from the creations of these schools and universities. But with the obvious advancement of black people, and our schools, would it be appropriate to integrate these all-black schools at this point?

Should institutions of higher learning like Tuskegee, Spelman, Morehouse, Howard, FAMU, Central and Elizabeth City be open to students of all color, cultures and creeds?

Is there a need to sustain the legacy that so many of our African-American heroes have fought, and in some instances, died, to keep alive?

I have had several conversations with colleagues of mine about this very subject and one of the most profound answers I got on the need of HBCU’s existence was that “Yes we still need them Of course they have evolved though. But HBCUs have evolved because black people have evolved.”

With that said, are HBCUs a reflection of the educated black man and woman in America? Or are the educated black men and women of America a reflection of HBCUs?

Are blacks that decide to go to culturally mixed, or bigger, more nationally recognized universities experiencing something that blacks educated at HBCUs are not? And vice versa?
Since other universities (non-HBCUs) have certain quotas to meet (i.e.- granting admission in a certain number of “other” races besides Caucasian), do blacks now have an equal chance at education? Do blacks and other minority races have a chance to advance as readily and steadily as their European/ Caucasian counterparts?
Because all people of a racial category besides that of Caucasian or white have had, in one time of history or another, had to fight for equal opportunities with their Caucasian counterparts, do we still need these specialized type of institutions? Are the existence of HBCUs, that educate blacks, still relevant and in need today? In present time?
Surely most can agree that institutions like HBCUs are constant reminders of the struggle for equality that still exists in America today. However, we must ask ourselves several questions, in addition to the ones listed above.
Firstly, have we evolved into a society that honestly looks beyond the barriers of race for qualifications for jobs, school admission, or any other type of advancement?
Once these “educated blacks” graduate from these nationally recognized, accredited African-American institutions, are they equipped with the proper skills to compete with students who have been educated at non-HBCUs?

Is there a precious piece of culture that is missing from blacks that do not graduate from a HBCU?

Or, do HBCUs even give blacks a fair shot in a Capitalist society that constantly encourages us to strive for self, and self only. Further self-attainment being the only reward of being “successful.”
-Since HBCUs strive on providing a communal sense of living, working and playing, is this a hindrance to the black man or woman that graduates from these institutions?

Most people I have talked with on this very sensitive, but important subject speak about the culture of HBCUs. From the bass-dropping bands at football games, to the hopping and strolling Fraternities and Sororities, to the very live and meaningful Homecoming celebrations, to the sense of family one feels at black schools, the culture of these schools is an energy that defies description.

So I ask, and really NEED to know and hear from you: Are Historically Black Colleges and Universities a Luxury or a Necessity for blacks?

Consider all of the things aforementioned and let’s get into a lively discussion about this matter, a meeting of the minds. Because let’s be honest, this does AFFECT me, you, our children and their children.

As one girl from Hampton University put it, “Yes HBCUs are still relevant, but I wish they weren’t.”

Are they though?
And what do you plan to do about your opinion on their existence or not?

**Only Great Minds Ponder…..

"Without Struggle there is no progress" -Frederick Douglass

                         **BlackSoulRose**               **E&J**


  1. From:

    Great post.

    As a current student at a HBCU, I recognize their necessity on a daily basis. In speaking with my counterparts that attend PWI's, I have noticed distinct differences in the way students are taught. I think that HBCU's are still important to the cultivation of our black leaders, which we are so sorely lacking. It's my opinion, that the next great black leaders will come from our generation, and help bring our community back to the greatness and unity that it once claimed. So yes, HBCU's are still a necessity, for the history, and cultural backgrounds that students will not receive at a PWI.

  2. This post is from: Queen Reesa

    She wrote:

    mad props to your blog post Erin girl! You are a very talented writer and ur opinion definitely needs to heard so glad u hopped into the blog world. but yeah, I feel that HBCU have alot a relevance . not so much as it didnt in our rich African American history but i feel that the reason and purpose of and HBCU has lost its touch. I no longer feel that black students are as pressed to go to a black college, cause for one it's private and we all know Hampton is HELLA expensive. I'm starting to blab on so lemme stop! lol Great post keep it up!

  3. This post is from: Cameron Jewell

    He wrote:

    "In the case of Hampton Institute, (now called Hampton University), the school was founded to focus on educating blacks to fill mostly agricultural and mechanical trades."

    Hampton University was not established to educate blacks in the beginning. Founder General Armstrong believed that education for blacks would be best suited in the industrial field. He was able to utilize industrial education as an ideological force that would provide instruction appropreiate for adjusting blacks to subordinate social roles in the New South. His purpose for doing so was to remove blacks from effective roles in southern politics and saw it as a means for "proper reconstruction". Armstrong had the intention of making blacks an economic asset instead of a burden to the south. Black teachers and leaders were used in preparation for the black masses for efficent services in black occupational service niches. Armstrong also used his military background to emphasize on regulaiton, order, system, and obedience because he felt that was most appropreiate for blacks. With the hiring of black to teachers, he wanted students to work in harmony with the faculty to maintain order. He also tried to use religion as well.

    I tried to do an article in The Script on this, but was censored by the advisors. This information also came from Dr. Rosenthal, a white man at that, in the sociology department who taught us this in our theory classes.

    HBCU's are more of a necessity than a luxory. At first, I was going to say no to either of them, but considering that I transfered from one HBCU only to end up in a socially oppressed one, I did take a lot with me. HBCU's are a necessity because we're enriched with history that hasn't been enabled in some public school systems. I want my child to know that black history was not all about slavery. I want him/her to know that black comes in the forms of many cultures and it just wasn't rooted in Africa. We neglect the value of information that our professors have entrusted us with without taking the significance of it all. History and knowledge are important, and you can get information from PWI's, but they won't tell you the WHOLE truth. I want my people to continue to be informed because we're passing down a legacy to each generation, and it's getting distorted along the way with the issues we have in our society today, as it pertains to hip hop culture and what's being portrayed on television. The younger generation should not being speaking Ebonics because slavery is over. It's our duty as future leaders and political figures, to educate and inform, so that we can uphold the truths to our own history. So yes, HBCU's are a necessity and they always will be.